When people read the description of what I am doing with The Family Institute the line that gets the most attention is the part of my quote that reads,
“Growing up in a wonderfully dysfunctional family…”
Why the consistent reaction? I believe it is because we all relate to the dysfunction of a family, but we rarely consider it wonderful. Those laughs are probably due to the irony of the statement (a humorous and unbelievable juxtaposition). In writing that I wasn’t really trying to be funny and make light of the dysfunction in families, though humor is an effective tool at times. Instead, I wrote it because I can truly say that the dysfunction from my family has created something wonderful; the chaos, frustration, explosions, and pain have all come together to form a colorful tapestry of who I am today and what I believe is my life message, which is to unlock family potential.
While I could wish for a healthier, shorter, more carefree path to this juncture in life, I realize that isn’t what would have prepared me best. I was put in the environment that would help me learn the skills to appreciate the challenges in family, find order in chaos, learn healthy conflict, respond rather than react, uncover systems to increase efficiency, define processes to ensure future success, understand myself and others to build stronger relationships, and learn how to process pain and forgive others. I am still on that journey and I believe I will be a lifelong learner in the process.
While I can appreciate my path and the lessons it taught me, I also understand that not everyone needs to endure the same path. The process can be more direct. Ideally, our kids are launching with a strong sense of self, and the ability to move forward without being hindered by the past and the challenges they faced at home. While no family is perfect, it is possible to learn and grow as you go, rather than live in pain and dysfunction. Much of what I have learned came the second time around with my own family as I sought to improve on the past and take advantage of the tools that are more available today. I now realize that the framework I created is what I was craving as a child. As I study the life stages of development I see the breakdowns and how to avoid them. I am not a counselor, but rather a consultant, a problem solver and a connector that wants to help families find a critical path forward to the healthiest, most life giving organization that they will ever experience, their family. After all, it is one of the only organizations you will be a member of for a lifetime.